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7 Fun Things to Do in Indianapolis, Indiana

Here are things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana, that I loved on my visit, from delicous food to world-class museums, zoos, and attractions.

(UPDATED JULY 2022) If you’ve never been to Indianapolis, or it has been quite a few years, you’ll definitely want to pencil in a road trip, vacation, or a day trip to check it out. There are so many fun things to do in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I’ve just scratched the surface. But what you can expect are world-class museums and attractions, NASCAR, upscale dining, fabulous murals and street art, professional sports, and scads of urban green spaces. Here are the things I enjoyed.

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1. Visit the Indianapolis Zoo

Between the awesome selection of animals and dining options, the Indianapolis Zoo has it all. You could easily make a day out of perusing the grounds and making memories with your family at this sustainable zoo specializing in animal conservation. When you visit the Indianapolis Zoo, you also get admission to two other Indy attractions (Hilbert Conservatory and DeHaan Tiergarten) to make a whole day out of it.

Only six zoos in the country have a walrus, so consider yourself lucky to watch the handsome Pacific Walrus, Pakak, up close and personal. The California sea lions, grey seals, and otters are also show-stoppers. I enjoyed seeing the rhinos, though Flights of Fancy was very cool. Other exciting animal habitats include baboons, warthogs, meerkats, and penguins.

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The Indianapolis Zoo also had babies and lots of them. New to the zoo are Animal Encounters, where one offering is to take a class to learn about the zoo’s animal ambassadors. The dolphin in-water adventure sounds primo!

The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center is a unique zoo feature where the amazing creatures come right up to the glass to interact with you.

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And if that wasn’t enough, this zoo has rides (carousel, family coaster, skyline ride, and white river junction train)and animal feedings to enrich your already great visit. Feedings include giraffe, flamingo, budgies, and lorikeet. Tickets are $4 per ticket or $35 for a 10-ticket package.

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2. Tour Eiteljorg Museum

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art was a sophisticated contemporary museum housing West and Native American artifacts and artwork. Eiteljorg is well thought out and has two floors of exhibits and galleries. Tickets are $15 for adults pre-purchased and $8 for youth; discounts are available for the military, AAA members, and downtown hotel guests with a room key.

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The American West Gallery’s Art had gorgeous paintings by artists such as Olaf Seltzer and the master himself, John J. Audubon. Grab lunch at the Eiteljorg Museum Café; it has a menu full of tasty items, including Mole Chorizo Meatballs and Smoked Chicken Tostadas. Check online for the Eiteljorg Museum calendar of special events spanning all year.

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3. Admire the Indiana War Memorials

What a big surprise! I had no idea how patriotic Indianapolis was or that it had so many stately memorial offerings. Second only to Washington DC, Indy has the most monuments and memorials dedicated to veterans

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Downtown’s Memorial plaza is home to the USS Indianapolis Memorial, Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument, and Memorial Museum, displaying Indiana’s history through the Civil War, Korean War, Vietnam, and World War II. The four corner statues of the impressive memorial represent Cavalry, Artillery, Infantry, and Navy.

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4. Eat a Delicious Meal

I had three very memorable meals in Indianapolis. St. Elmo Steakhouse ranks as one of America’s top 15 steakhouses, so I had to try it. I started with the Elmo Coke, a creation of maraschino cherry and vanilla-infused bourbon with Coca-Cola. Then came the Shrimp Cocktail, a must and what St. Elmo Steakhouse is most famous for. Rumor is they invented cocktail sauce; you’ve never tasted anything like it. The horseradish is shredded daily and really hot. It will clear your sinuses but is delightfully delicious in the meantime. 

Mesh is a sophisticated eatery with chef-inspired creations and a fantastic Applewood Chicken Salad for lunch, or White Cheddar Bacon Burger for dinner.

My favorite meal came from Napolese Pizzeria, where the pizza recipes are to die for, but the appetizers and salads are equally as impressive. The Broken Yolk pizza gets my vote (Margherita with runny egg yolk), and the Baked Capriole Goat Cheese with homemade Focaccia was a tangy marriage of creamy goodness. 

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I could eat the Double Chopped House Salad all day long. This tasty dish starts with red leaf lettuce and is topped with chickpeas, tomatoes, roasted peppers, Pancetta, and pepperoni. Crumbled gorgonzola and red vine vinaigrette complete the wow factor.

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5. Play at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Numerous magazines and websites continually rank the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as one of the top children’s zoos. The enormous dinosaur outside the museum seeming to peer in should give you an idea of how excellent this experience will be. 

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The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is equally impressive for children and adults with its active theater, Take Me There: Greece, Beyond Spaceship Earth module, ScienceWorks, Treasures of the Earth exhibit, and programming.

As an adult, I seriously loved the five-story blown 3,200-piece glass menagerie Fireworks of Glass by Dale Chihuly. The American Pop exhibit on film, TV, toys, games, fashion, and music was also a walk down memory lane.

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My daughter, Taylor, preferred the Power of Children (bring a tissue due to the sensitive nature). These displays tell the powerful stories of Ryan White, Ruby Bridges, Anne Frank, and Malala Yousafzai. Currently, a Barbie You Can Be Anything: The Experience is on the calendar.

General admission tickets ($30-$33 for adults, $24-$27 for youth) include access to the museum, plus the Riley Children’s Health Sports Legends Experience®. Plan-Ahead Pricing allows up to a 20% discount if you buy tickets at least two weeks in advance. Museum Free Days (yes, absolutely free!) are MLK Day, Presidents Day, Christmas Eve, and Fiesta de la Familia in September. 

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6. Get Outdoors in the Urban Greenspace

One of the most fun things in Indianapolis is getting outdoors. Indy is one of the “greenest” cities I have ever been to, which is one of the things I found so intriguing about it. There was lots of space for visitors and locals to roam and enjoy the outdoors.

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White River State Park, viewed from my JW Marriott windows, boasts 250 acres of green space. The space connects downtown to significant tourist attractions plus includes a live music venue and the scenic Central Canal and zoo.

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7. Murals, Sculptures, and Art Installments: Oh, My!

Indianapolis is a majorly artsy city. You’ll find the best of Indy on Mass Ave., the eclectic and popular heartbeat of town. From the dancing girl crosswalk to art installments on the ground, streets, sides of buildings, and even a scented alley, you will be more than wowed by them. There are also some incredible photo-ops, like the Indy platform where you can have the city view in the background.

Pro Tip: Stop by Stout’s Shoes while on Mass Ave, the nation’s oldest shoe store, circa 1886.

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A few murals to chase around town to find are Frenchie, Love Conquers All, Dream Big, DJ Topspeed, and KISS Kitties. The Indy Cultural Trail is another fun idea to check out.

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Stay at a Luxury Hotel in Indy

While in Indy, my daughter and I stayed at the luxury downtown JW Marriott property. We scored concierge-level access with several food and beverage presentations throughout the day. The richly-decorated hotel has a romantic stone fireplace in the lobby and great onsite restaurants. 

Our room had comfortable queen beds, a desk area, flat-screen TV, a spacious bathroom, and beautiful views of downtown Indy through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

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Indianapolis: A Great Find!

I cannot wait to revisit Indy! The city’s friendly people, excellent service, beautiful scenery, and top-notch attractions dazzled me. People were running, walking, biking, and skateboarding; Indy’s energetic vibe was contagious.

These were the things that I loved about Indianapolis, and I hope that you will, too!

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Some of the above-mentioned admissions and meals were hosted by the vendors/businesses in association with Bloghouse. All other things were at my own expense. All opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased. 

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